Category: Instructional Technology News

Instructional Technology News – Sept. 15, 2020

An upcoming security change, a few maintenance items, and tech reminders to share this week.

Zoom Security Changes

Beginning Sept. 27, Zoom will require that all meetings have a passcode or a waiting room enabled. Meetings that do not have a passcode or waiting room enabled will automatically be applied a waiting room.  Waiting rooms can be customized to fit the need and audience for your meeting. For more information, visit the Zoom Support website.

VoiceThread Maintenance

VoiceThread will be performing a database upgrade and maintenance on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 4am – 5am. VoiceThread will not be offline, but tools may be slow to load during this maintenance window.

myBama Maintenance

myBama will be also undergo a database upgrade Saturday, Sept. 19 from 6am until 1pm. myBama will be unavailable during the maintenance window; however, Blackboard Learn will continue to be available by direct access – ualearn.blackboard.com.

Virtual Learning Spaces

If students need a space away from their residence to attend an online class, encourage them to visit one of UA’s 60+ virtual learning spaces. These spaces are designated areas where students can attend online class meetings while on campus.

Lockdown Browser Info for Students

Lockdown Browser is a tool new to many UA students. Consider sharing CIT’s Lockdown Browser Information with your students. A few reminders for students:

  • Download the UA version of Lockdown browser, not just any version of Lockdown Browser found on the web.
  • Choose Blackboard Learn from the server list.
  • Use a hard-wire ethernet connection when possible.
  • Restart the computer and shut down other programs on the computer before beginning Lockdown Browser.

Follow CIT on YouTube

In recent weeks we’ve added several tutorial videos to our YouTube channel. Check out Testing Tips for Instructors, as well as Blackboard Basics for Students.

Instructional Technology News – September 2, 2020

September is here – time to start planning for your first course assessment of the semester! The CIT has prepared content for each course delivery mode regarding best practices for online exams and assessments. Meet our tools that can help you as you prepare your first assessment.

Testing Tools:

Blackboard Tests

Instructors can use Blackboard Learn to create, administer, and grade exams and quizzes, all online. Visit cit.ua.edu/blackboard for detailed tutorials.

Respondus Lockdown Browser

Respondus Lockdown Browser allows instructors to require students use a pared-down, secure web browser to take an exam (not available for Chromebooks). Students can download Lockdown Browser from the My Institution page in Blackboard or on the OIT software page. Instructors must enable Lockdown Browser from the Course Tools menu.

Respondus Monitor

The Respondus Monitor option in Lockdown Browser uses a student’s webcam to automatically scan for irregular or suspicious test-taking activity and flag possible issues for instructors to review. Think of Respondus as a virtual alternative to an in-person testing monitor.

Exam Accommodations

If you have students who receive ODS accommodations that include extended time on tests, these steps from Blackboard walk you through adding test exceptions. Additionally, the Office of Disability Services provides information on testing accommodations at UA. Check out ods.ua.edu for more information.

Testing Tips

Tests aren’t new, but taking tests online can be new territory for many students. Share our Testing Tips with your students.

Additional Learning Space/Tech News:

Virtual Learning Spaces

UA has designated more than 60 classrooms and meeting rooms as virtual learning spaces – areas where students can attend online class meetings while on campus. Please share this with your students as an alternative location to attend an online class.

Student WIFI Connectivity

OIT is performing upgrades in several residence halls to improve wireless connectivity. If you encounter a student experiencing WIFI connectivity issues in their on-campus residence, please direct them to the IT Service Desk (205-348-5555 or itsd@ua.edu). *Note – the IT Service Desk is separate from the CIT. However, each are units within the Office of Information Technology.

Instructional Technology News – Aug. 27, 2020

We’re one week in to our new methods of teaching. CIT has a few resources to share as you continue to develop best practices for your course.

Contingency Planning

As we saw this week with a Zoom web server issue, outages occur. Although we strive to do everything in our power to prevent outages, please know that alternative technologies are available! For example, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is an ideal tool to host a class meeting if Zoom is unavailable. Review all of our technologies, and see what they can do, in our Tool Comparison Chart.

Along with technology backups, consider having an instructor backup. Are your course materials available so that someone else could pick them up and teach your class? Consider having a backup instructor available with access to your course materials.

Blackboard Learn Basics for Students and Instructors

Students and instructors are depending on Blackboard Learn now more than ever before. Blackboard Learn serves as your course home page for most necessary materials.  Review the CIT YouTube channel to see Blackboard best practices for both students and instructors. Learn how navigate and use Blackboard like a pro.

Check the CIT website for Common Tips

For example, if you use Panopto in the Safari browser, you may have noticed a login redirect loop. We’ve got a work-around that can help.

As always, we’re here to help. Contact us at cit@ua.edu, and remember, all UA instructors can contact Panopto Supportdirectly for help with Panopto, support@panopto.com.

Instructional Technology News – August 17, 2020

Welcome to the fall 2020 semester at The University of Alabama! Your colleagues in the Center for Instructional Technology are available to help with your instructional technology and accessibility needs.

Flexible Modes of Instruction

We’ve developed several resources to help with flexible teaching methods. Review the CIT website to see tips and best practices for Face-to-Face, Hybrid, Online/Internet and Interactive Audio/Video courses. Make an appointment for your virtual consultation today by emailing cit@ua.edu. If courses show as “not currently available” in the instructor’s course list, edit course availability in Blackboard course properties.

Classroom Technology
Our colleagues in Audio/Visual Solutions have installed web cameras on adjustable mounts in over 400 instructional spaces across campus to allow instructors to livestream and record lectures. This will facilitate equitable learning opportunities for both face-to-face and remote learners. Additionally, disposable microphone covers are being delivered to academic departments this week.  They are packaged for faculty scheduled to teach in eligible classrooms.  To find out more, visit AVS online

Extended Support

Great news! We’ve expanded support offerings for both Panopto and Blackboard Learn. Now, anyone from UA can get direct support from Panopto and Blackboard Learn support will be available on nights and weekends. Visit cit.ua.edu and accessibility.ua.edu to view our instructional technology and accessibility support offerings.

Build Your Online Presence

Did you know that CIT supports a web development tool for UA faculty and graduate students to build professional, portfolio websites? Visit people.ua.edu to learn more and request a website.

Stay in Touch

To check on the status of our technologies, visit our news page. While you’re there, subscribe to receive updates from CIT.

This semester may look different than previous years, but please know, our team is ready to serve you as we have each year before. Please contact us at 205-348-3532 cit@ua.edu to request help with instructional technology anytime throughout the semester.

Instructional Technology News – July 22, 2020

Tegrity Out, Panopto In

It’s been a long breakup, but the end is finally here. Tegrity is now officially no longer available in Blackboard. We’ve received great feedback on its replacement, Panopto, from both students and instructors. In an informal poll, students named Panopto as their favorite tool during the spring transition to remote learning. If you have not yet used Panopto, I encourage you to watch our Record Your Video from Home How-To tutorial video, and learn more about Panopto on the CIT website.

Collaborate Original Out, Collaborate Ultra In

Effective Aug. 8, Blackboard Collaborate Original will no longer be available in Blackboard. Its replacement, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, is available now! Collaborate Ultra provides a more user-friendly and modern virtual meeting experience. Blackboard Collaborate is an ideal tool for leading virtual classes, office hours, tutoring and mentoring sessions, departmental meetings and more. Many existing features have been improved and modernized. Here is an overview of some of the tools that you can expect:

  • Browser-based web conferencing
  • Simple, fast file sharing
  • Recordings
  • Breakout Groups
  • Polling
  • Attendance Reporting

Get started with Collaborate Ultra today.

myBama + Banner Database Upgrades this Weekend

OIT will be performing database upgrades on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s work will affect myBama, Sunday’s work will affect Banner, DegreeWorks and a few additional services. Details about the database upgrades and outage times is available on the OIT Status Page. During both outages, Blackboard Learn will be available directly at ualearn.blackboard.com.

Reminder – Upcoming Blackboard Learn Outage

Blackboard Learn will undergo required maintenance and upgrades Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 4pm until Saturday, Aug. 8 at 2pm. We’ll be in touch in the coming weeks with more details about the upgrade.

Instructional Technology News – July 14, 2020

Zoom Update

Please regularly update the Zoom client installed on your computer. Zoom regularly publishes updates to keep the software secure. Zoom’s website offers instructions on how to update the software.

Vendor Webinars

CIT is hosting many webinars to prep instructors for fall, and so are our software partners. Visit the CIT website to see upcoming webinars from Panopto, Blackboard, VoiceThread and others. Additionally, software partners such as JMP and MATLAB regularly offer webinars for teaching with their software.

Respondus Password Update

Each year, CIT receives an updated license and installation password for Respondus 4 test management software. The password has been updated and is posted in the Respondus Blackboard course. Please note, this does not affect Lockdown Browser or Monitor.

Save the Date: Blackboard Learn Upgrade

Blackboard Learn will undergo required maintenance and upgrades beginning Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 4:00 p.m. until Saturday, Aug. 8 at 2:00 p.m. Blackboard Learn will be unavailable during the required maintenance.